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The widespread move by many nations towards more open online gambling regulatory regimes has triggered a corresponding interest among operators wishing to favourably position themselves for all eventualities.

In this article the chief executive officer of the independent standards and player protection organisation eCOGRA, Andrew Beveridge, examines the developing situation.

The evolution of online gambling into a mainstream betting activity increasingly governed at national levels has rarely looked so promising as during the past two years.

A growing number of governments, both national and provincial or state, are opting to licence and regulate, opening up markets rather than maintaining old-fashioned state monopolies or outright bans.

In North America and in Europe, the more open model perhaps set in 2005 by the United Kingdom with the formation of the UK Gambling Commission has found increasing favour, although differences of culture, politics and legislative history continue to inform national decisions.

Industry experts attribute the general policy shift to a variety of causes, ranging from the need for recession-hammered governments to raise additional tax revenues to the determination of the European Commission to ensure that EU member states are compliant with the principles of free movement of goods and services between members of the Union.

Others claim that the reality of trying to stifle a cross-border pastime that is so popular at the consumer level; so advanced and dynamic in a technological sense; and so lucrative for successful companies and governments alike, has at last begun to dawn on the politicians.

Whatever the causes, or combinations thereof, there can be little doubt that online gambling is undergoing a paradigm shift, with strong indications that its continuing development will, in the case of committed and competitive companies, increasingly entail compliance with regulations and standards.

David Loveday, chief executive of software supplier OpenBet, recently underscored the importance of preparation, stressing that the important issue to remember is that regulated markets are the future and not grey or black territories.

??We can't repeat this message enough ?? regulated markets are the future, and will become even more important. If you are in unregulated markets in the years to come you will be nowhere in this industry, increasingly marginalised and with a poor quality of earnings. There is no future in unregulated gaming.?

While regulatory regimes and standards may vary somewhat from nation to nation, the fundamentals are likely to remain, demanding professionalism on the part of operators intent on occupying the best positions in an industry that has always been tough and competitive.

That sense of professionalism and a desire to be prepared to meet the highest standards are powerful motives that have resulted in many major internet gambling companies, and for that matter developing jurisdictions, engaging with eCOGRA.

Even before our official launch as an independent not-for-profit organisation in 2003, we embarked on extensive research exercises with top international experts to determine best practice standards applicable to the industry and the many different disciplines and skills required to thrive in the internet gambling business.

Since then we have honed these requisites by operational experience, and broadened the scope to keep pace with an expanding and maturing industry and the exceptionally dynamic technologies that drive it to ever higher levels.

Online gambling today comprises more wagering genres, delivered via more diverse technology channels than ever before, and we have found a ready market for the professional services offered by our IT and audit specialists in software testing, the maintenance of standards, responsible gambling and disputes resolution and business counselling.

In my opinion this demand for both relevant standards and expertise in implementing and maintaining same can only become more pronounced in the changed regulatory environment that is now happening across Europe and North America in particular.

In Europe, there is renewed hope that some degree of regulatory harmonisation might still be achieved.

Last year EU ministers acknowledged for the first time that a purely national approach is insufficient to deal with online gambling. A spokesman for EGBA noted that this may pave the way for increased cooperation at the European level.

The "Council Conclusions on the Framework for Gambling and Betting in the Member States of the European Union" detailed the policy discussion surrounding online gambling, and represents the first unanimous position that member states have reached since they began debating online gambling in the Council in 2008.

EGBA feels this provides impetus to the European Commission´s Green Paper consultation, with Secretary General, Sigrid Ligné, opining: "The importance of these conclusions for online gambling in the EU cannot be underestimated. The Member States expressly support an in-depth discussion on online gambling in the Internal Market as proposed by Commissioner Barnier.

"For the first time they have also unanimously agreed to work on very practical measures to improve cross-border cooperation," Ligne said.  

The member states agreed on a number of actions that national regulatory authorities could undertake that will improve cooperation. These include cooperation on consumer protection, sports integrity, minimising unnecessary administrative burdens and the sharing of best practice in relation to responsible gambling measures.

With the European Commission's consultative process now under way, it may be helpful to take a snapshot of national regulatory developments that have occurred recently.


In France the old state-dominated monopolies are now largely a thing of the past following the partial liberalisation of the market mid-year 2010. The result is that top companies have prepared to meet the strict licensing requirements of regulator ARJEL, with many entering into partnerships with French entities and obtaining licenses.

Others with reservations about the tax levels and other problems have decided not to apply, but have nevertheless showed respect for the new French approach by withdrawing their services from that market.

The French move to a more compliant stance headed off a European Commission that was clearly growing impatient with a reluctance to change on the part of several EU members, at the same time giving French punters a wider and more French-focused choice of venues and genres.

Companies like Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) and the La Français de Jeux, which had pretty much had the field to themselves, appear to have risen to the occasion and are competing aggressively?¦.and competition is rarely a bad thing when it comes to the consumer.

The old defence for monopolies ?? that these are necessary to protect the player ?? has been to some extent eroded by developments and European Court of Justice rulings, which call for such claims to be justified, and will not allow them to stand if they are not matched by a nation's conduct ?? for example vigorously promoting gambling whilst claiming that national monopolies are necessary to prevent gambling problems. And any suggestion of a discriminatory approach is closely examined.

Online sportsbetting and poker are now allowed in France, with hopes that casino activity will be permitted at some point.

Whilst the regulations are typically French-centric, the situation is a significant improvement on the former exclusive system that triggered complaints and litigation from companies in other EU nations.

If anything, the liberalisation has boosted results for the former monopolies; recent numbers released by La Francaise des Jeux revealed an almost doubling in sports betting revenues in 2010.

The company reported that internet sports betting revenues reached an unprecedented Euro 91 million (2009: Euro 43 Million) equating to an increase of 111.6 percent, coupled with a market share that has quadrupled since the opening of trading on June 8.

In March two conferences on the liberalisation and its consequences were held, paving the way for a mandatory review (clause revoyure) of the liberalisation initiative towards the end of 2011. This is expected to be a wide-ranging exercise embracing all aspects, from taxation levels and law to regulations and social impacts.

Subsequent to the conferences, the French Minister of Finance announced that there would be no changes ?? especially in regards to taxation - until after the presidential elections in 2012.


The situation in Finland is less satisfactory, with three state-sanctioned operators holding what amounts to monopolies in slots machine action (RAY), lottery and sports betting (Veikkaus) and horseracing (Fintoto)

The dominance of the Finnish gambling landscape by these three entities has led to complaints that the market would be more fairly and efficiently served if some outside competition was allowed, but the government appears to have set its mind against a more liberal approach.

The current arrangement is perhaps ripe for European Commission study and possibly intervention if the EU principles are to be fully respected.


Political sleight-of-hand may have been at work in Austria last year, when the Austrian government came under fire, accused of trying to shield state monopoly Casinos Austria and Austrian company Novomatic from foreign competition.

Although the government made amendment proposals to its Gambling Act in 2008, it has been argued that the country's legislation remains discriminatory against foreign operators.

An executive of the country's gaming machine trade body ?? the Automatenverband ?? is on record as saying that legislative proposals were aimed specifically at ??reducing the number of possible applications" for a licence by foreign operators.

The law included the requirement that any foreign operator be licensed in its own country, and for that country's official regulator to guarantee "comparable supervision and control."   The clause gave rise to criticism that it could be used to exclude foreign companies on grounds of non-recognition of another jurisdiction, and that it was discriminatory in favour of Austrian applicants.

In September the European Court of Justice ruled that Austrian legislation requiring gaming operators to locate their seat in the country was not compliant with EU law.


Italy has gone from zero to hero in a remarkable about-face in recent years, and is now one of the great success stories in online gambling regulation, a process controlled by national regulator AAMS.

The country went from trying to strangle online gambling through ISP bans and other draconian tactics, to taking an enlightened and informed course that has resulted in the development of an impressively large, vibrant and well ordered market that has attracted many top domestic and foreign companies.

As in France, the regulatory regime has given Italian internet gamblers better protection and wider choice, at the same time lifting the threat of European Commission sanctions and avoiding the possibility of being dragged into the European Court of Justice.

Prior to the change of direction, the Italian Olympic Committee and the National Horse Breeders Enhancement Society had dominated the market in a protectionist system that was both disproportionate and discriminatory against other EU nations.

Italy is now the largest e-gaming market in Europe with an approximate gross win of Euro 19 billion (GBP16 billion), according to H2 Gambling Capital data. Online poker and sports betting is thriving.

In early February 2011 Italian regulator AAMS released regulations for internet cash poker, casino games and multi-level tournaments.

The new regulations, already authorised by the European Commission, include:
  • Buy-in's for skill games, including online poker, can not exceed Euro 250.
  • The initial stake for participation in a poker or casino game session may not exceed Euro 1000.
  • A return-to-player of at least 90 percent.
  • Cash poker and casino games subject to a 20 percent gross profits tax.
Industry analysts have estimated that the introduction of the additional genres could double revenues in the Italian market by 2012.

Full detail on the regulations can be accessed here.


Among the pioneers in taking a more measured and enlightened approach to online gambling, the British industry is controlled by the Gambling Commission, with a finely honed set of standards and regulations that has resulted in a largely orderly industry. There have been few if any problems regarding old and unrealised fears such as dramatically increased problem gambling, organised crime or money laundering.

The UK market has shown steady growth, with the independent market research company Nielsen revealing in September last year that visits to online gaming sites grew at a faster rate than social media sites such as Facebook. An additional 3.2 million people had visited an online gaming site in 2010 (a 40 percent increase over the previous year) compared to the extra 2.2 million who accessed social networking sites, the monitoring company reported.

Unfortunately, a tough taxation approach has probably discouraged more internet gambling groups from submitting to UK regulation. In the competitive world of online gambling, such companies tend to domicile in more tax-friendly locations such as the Isle of Man, Malta, Gibraltar, Alderney and even far-off Antigua, which ?? for now anyway - retain the privilege of advertising their products in the UK, but do not suffer the burden of punitive taxes and levies.

Major UK firms like Ladbrokes, Stan James, Victor Chandler, Betfair and William Hill have in the past all set up online gambling divisions in these offshore 'white-listed' online gambling regulatory jurisdictions in order to remain competitive by escaping the punitive 15 percent tax rate in Britain.

Troubled by this situation, the government commissioned an enquiry, the results of which are expected in the near future.

There are fears that the UK government may take a confrontational approach with these companies by preventing them from advertising and promoting in the United Kingdom through a 'secondary licensing' strategy that would require offshore companies wishing to access the UK market to take out an additional (UK) licence.

Whilst that represents the 'stick' route, there may be a more 'carrot' oriented strategy afoot as well, in the form of amendments to the Controlled Foreign Companies (CFC ) rules. If these were to be 'toned down' by the introduction of a special tax concession for offshore companies which repatriate their internet operations, it could have a positive effect, say some observers.


The Germans have so far been reluctant to abandon the monopolistic model, although there are signs that this attitude is softening in some states. The nation's sixteen states have by treaty tried to keep the market to themselves, even attempting to stop German operators from accepting bets from German residents with tough measures that include ISP and financial transaction blocking provisions.

In general, online gambling in Germany has been illegal since 2008, but is nevertheless widely used by German nationals via external websites. In a survey last year, Gold Media estimated that Euro 7.3 billion of the Euro 7.8 billion staked in Germany in 2009, or 94 percent of the total, went to ??offshore' online gambling.

The European Commission has repeatedly informed the Germans that it considers their monopolistic approach to be non-compliant, but the Germans have been to some extent encouraged by an ECJ ruling that nations can exclude operators from other EU countries if it is in the [local] public interest.

However, with state-sanctioned companies continuing to promote gambling to Germans, this approach looks ever more discriminatory, disproportionate and protectionist?¦.and online companies continue to access the German player, who seeks the best games and bets.

The sixteen-state gambling Treaty in Germany comes to an end on January 1, 2012, a possibility that has triggered much speculation.

In December 2010 the states met in an attempt to find consensus on the way forward, but were unable to do so.  There seems to be agreement on maintaining the lottery monopoly, but there are clearly divisions regarding other gambling genres, with some states ?? mainly Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia hoping to continue a blanket monopoly on sports betting, but others, including progressive governments like Schleswig Holstein and Saxony, keen to liberalise and exploit the online gambling opportunity.

Schleswig-Holstein has been especially forthright, intimating that online sports betting, casino and poker licenses could be made available to suitable private operators in 2011, ready for the introduction of a regulatory dispensation once the German Treaty expires.

The latest available information to hand suggests that the Schleswig-Holstein parliament is to debate a draft bill soon which is apparently based on the Danish model and carries a 20 percent of gross profit tax rate.

Given the disparate views of the German states, it appears likely that each will adopt an individual approach to online gambling come 2012. The success of progressive states like Schleswig-Holstein will likely influence the direction in which other states go in what could well be a chaotic phase for the German industry.

Online gambling groups like Carmen Media, Bwin Interactive and others have kept the pressure on with litigation, generating judicial opinions on the monopolistic nature of the Treaty. In Bavaria, for example, a court found that monopolistic domination of gambling can only be permissible in EU law (on grounds of the public interest) if the market as a whole were organised in such a way as to control addiction.

In February 2011, the heads of state chancelleries again addressed the issue, and were again unable to reach a unanimous conclusion. The European Commission has expressed the hope that "...reforms will be consistent with EU law."

Given the impressive size and wealth of the German market, developments are being keenly watched by online gambling companies, and again the issue of preparedness to move is a key element in many management strategies.

In mid-April 2011 major European operators held a press conference on the German situation, where the state of Schleswig-Holstein and its more progressive approach was clearly favoured.

Earlier, Schleswig-Holstein had made it clear that it did not support the opinions of other members of the German Treaty on the way forward in a new contract. The proposed set of new German gambling laws have a 16.7 percent turnover tax on licensed online sportsbooks and only permit current land-based casino license holders to apply for the seven online gambling licenses.

Drafting of a set of regulations in Schleswig Holstein is already well advanced, and has been notified to the EC, with initial discussion already completed in the state parliament.

The other fifteen Treaty signatories produced a formula for a continuation of the Treaty which held little appeal for operators and suffered from significant constitutional and EU compliance concerns. The European Court of Justice Guidelines, which dismissed the existing Gaming Treaty for being contrary to EU law, were not taken into account, for example.

"The model cannot be executed; it contains nothing except a de facto continuation of the sports betting monopoly," a spokesman for the operators pointed out. "Massive advertising restrictions, a far-reaching ban on live betting, restrictive taxation, limits, as well as a ban on poker and casino games have little to do with societal reality and make it impossible for private companies to operate their businesses," he added.

"The experiences from other EU countries and the experience from the past four years in Germany clearly show that this type of regulatory approach is doomed to failure. The intended channeling and regulation of existing markets will not be attained, even with the proposed Internet blocks which have not been enforceable to date."

"European gaming companies request regulations that are competitive and comply with EU law, and welcome the law drafted by Schleswig-Holstein's government coalition," the spokesman added.

"The operators are awaiting only the implementation of the favoured state's new online gambling regulations.?

Schleswig-Holstein has opted for a regulatory approach that secures the state??s lottery monopoly, but which would remain receptive to market realities in other gaming segments and simultaneously ensure a high level of consumer protection.


With its 35 percent or more majority stake in the gambling monopoly OPAP, Greece has long been a fierce opponent of online gambling, but economic and other factors like pressure from the European Commission have brought about a profound change in attitude in more recent times.

With increasing numbers of Greeks resorting to offshore websites to fulfill their gambling needs, last year the government announced that it was considering the regulation of online gambling.

By mid-year moves were afoot to enact the necessary legislation, with some sources claiming that a target date of May 2011 had been tentatively set for implementation.

It is anticipated that legalisation will deliver additional revenues of Euro 700 million annually to the cash-strapped government.

The Greeks may follow the popular European trend of trying to retain the OPAP monopoly on lucrative sectors, whilst opening up the rest of the market to EU-licensed companies. It is understood that there are proposals to grandfather in OPAP as sole provider of lottery wagering and sports betting in Greece through 2019.

There has also been talk of OPAP being privatised to raise money for the state coffers.

Late January 2011 the Cabinet signed off on proposals for a consultation process that immediately attracted criticism from the Remote Gaming Association.  The proposals included a suggested 6 percent tax on turnover for future Greek licensees, who would have to use a Greek domain and have a presence ?? including servers ?? in the country.

The RGA described the 6 percent tax rate as ??simply not viable? and has concerns that other provisions do not comply with EU law or make commercial sense.

In March the politicians reconsidered the tax rate in the face of strong trade association and operator resistance, settling for a 30 percent tax on gross profits and between 15 and 50 five year licenses. This proved more agreeable, although there remained concerns regarding other provisions that may not comply with EU requirements and have been the subject of negotiation.

Current estimates are that the ??legal' Greek market is worth around Euro 10 billion a year, making it an attractive arena...but only if tax and regulatory requirements are attractive enough. In addition to the 30 percent tax on gross profits there is a 25 percent corporate tax with which to contend.

Also in March, the Greek betting monopoly OPAP announced the launch of fixed-odds virtual games and greyhound racing, according to Reuters reports. The new games will be operated on a trial basis in parts of the country with other betting offerings such as car racing to be added in the near future.

The drama in Greece is not yet over, as requests that the European Commission fast-track its approval of Greek draft legislation have been rejected, meaning that the EC will not review the draft until June 6, seriously hampering the government's plans for implementation.

In the meantime, a further crisis arose in April, when members of the ruling party objected to the legislation on grounds that it would ??turn the country into one big casino. Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told lawmakers he would retract the draft for further consultation.


It appears from reports on Intefax in January 2011 that the Ukrainian Government is having second thoughts regarding the banning of gambling in the Eastern European country.

The report reveals that the Prime Minister, Mykola Azarov, this month tasked the Finance Ministry with drawing up draft regulations and tax proposals on gambling.

The relevant decree, No.12 of January 14, amends the Finance Ministry's action plan regarding the drawing up of regulatory acts for 2011, and has been posted on the Ministry's web site.

It was only at the end of last year that the police were given new powers to stamp out gambling following the government's decision to ban gambling in a similar fashion to Russia.


Changes to the previously monopolistic Danish gambling laws scheduled to go into effect on 1 January 2010 have been pushed back to April 2011 or later. The delay is in part due to the need to process and analyse a large number of licence applications.

However, the Danes are facing a more serious problem following complaints from the nation's land gambling operators that the proposed 20 percent tax rate on internet gambling discriminates against land operators, who pay considerably more at 41 percent.

Following the complaints, the European Commission in December announced that an investigation would be made into the 2010 Danish Gambling Tax Act, which allegedly creates a differentiated tax regime between land-based operators, and online and betting operators.

Other complaints from the wider industry relate to the mandatory requirement in the new law that applicants cease all online gambling activity involving Danish players until such time as their licenses are issued; this has been widely perceived as giving selected Danish licensees an unfair head start in the liberalised market.

The delay is not the first on Denmark's rocky road to a more even-handed gambling dispensation, with previous delays last year occasioned by non-compliance in areas like account securities and controls as offered by other EU jurisdictions, and Danish insistence that pool betting for horse racing remains restricted.

Other points of contention included the introduction of ISP and financial transactions blocking.

Unlike France and Italy it does not appear as if the Danes are going to insist on dedicated online poker networks; locally-licensed internet poker sites will be able to connect with existing international networks, providing better player liquidity to both Danish players and operators.

Although the historic monopoly Danske Spil will maintain control over the lottery, scratch card, keno, and internet bingo sectors, two different categories of licence ?? sports betting and casino/poker games are envisaged.


Norway is taking a harder line on internet gambling via its Payment Act, a relatively recent law targeted on unauthorised online gambling which takes a similar line to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in the United States, punishing local financial institutions that process transactions between Norwegian accounts and unlicensed internet gaming sites.

Such a strategy depends largely on the cooperation of an overworked financial services industry.

In Norway it has since 2008 been illegal to gamble online unless at a Norwegian licensed site...and that means only two state monopolistic organisations - Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto.

Such harsh measures are unusual for a European nation, but went into effect in mid-2010, threatening Norwegian-based financial institutions with prosecution if transactions with unauthorised online gambling sites are facilitated, and including ISP blocking provisions.

Although Norway is not yet part of the European Union it is a member of European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Community and should therefore support the accepted principles of free movement of goods and services.  As far back as 2008, EFTA opined that the then proposed Norwegian measures constituted an ???¦unjustified restriction of the freedoms of the internal market for gambling services.?

Instead of heeding the advice, the Norwegian government has used the hoary old argument that it has restricted its licensing in the interests of fighting gambling addiction, crime and fraud.


Online gaming is permitted in Sweden, but has traditionally been restricted to state monopoly Svenska Spel, which offers lotteries, casino games, bingo, poker and sports and horse wagering via both internet and mobile channels.

Although foreign operators ?? even those from EU nations ?? are currently excluded from participating in the Swedish market, European Commission pressure appears to have wrought useful changes in Swedish thinking.

The government is currently in the process of creating new online regulatory legislation, seeking a middle path that will allow it to retain its lucrative dominance in most forms of internet gambling, but allowing competitors into the sports betting sector by applying for licensing in 2011.

The tussle to bring Sweden into compliance has been ongoing for several years and has featured bitter litigation as the government sought to prosecute local media in order to prevent foreign advertising by Svenska Spel competitors. 

There is also the apparent dichotomy of a nation that has for years professed to enforce a monopoly on moral grounds, yet in recent times has expressed ambitions to export its gambling skills as a commercial venture.


This Eastern European country has twice had to re-draft its proposed gambling laws, which include online gambling provisions, following adverse European Commission opinions.

In the latest attempt, matters are at a standstill until at least March 1st following the submission of a fresh draft addressing European Commission complaints that the original was non-compliant with EU law.

In October last year the Commission issued a detailed opinion against a Romanian draft legislation dating from July 2010 and seeking to regulate online gaming and betting. The adverse nature of the opinion meant Romania could not adopt the draft and would have to address specific issues in a fresh notification.

Analysts at the time said that the draft had failed due to:
  • The discriminatory prohibition of marketing and advertising activities for EU licensed companies which are not authorised in Romania
  • The requirement for EU licensed online betting companies to have their servers in Romania
  • The requirement for EU licensed online companies to be established in Romania
  • The unjustified exclusion of online pool betting while all other forms of online gambling would be allowed.
In early March 2011 the European Commission issued its second detailed opinion, again raising concerns that the Romanian draft may conflict with EU law, and pushing he ??standstill' date out to April 2011, by which date Romania is expected to respond.


The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are burgeoning regulated markets that have comparatively recently reviewed online gambling and introduced regulations, albeit falling short of full liberalisation in European terms.

Lithuanian gambling laws give state lottery company Olifeja the sole right to offer online gambling services in the country, with the exception of internet sports betting, provided through three sportsbooks: Topsport, Orakulas and Omnibet. However, the government appears to be opening up the industry to more competition.

Recent developments in the country include a 3 year deal with Intralot that will reportedly see internet choices expanded significantly, upgrading Olifeja's platform and adding games.

Lithuania is therefore apparently moving away from a past that included attempts to ISP-block sites, which discouraged many operators from seeking a licence. The new laws should make it viable for licensed EU bookmakers to offer bets and casino games online.

In Latvia, home to some impressive online gambling software companies, the pastime has been legal since 2003, with a 10 percent interactive betting tax that has not discouraged players or companies like Playtech from launching Live Dealer action based in the country, or some 160 operational sites from springing up.

Estonia has also changed course from a rather insular and parochial approach to one displaying a more liberal attitude to internet gambling that should see enlightened regulations and a consequently bigger range of international operators going after licensing in 2011.


The Netherlands has proved to be another contentious region, clinging to a state monopolistic system until comparatively recently that has generated legal actions and bitter recriminations, along with censure from the European Commission.

The Dutch courts appear to have traditionally sided with the monopolistic policies of the government, and the European Court of Justice has provided some surprises, for example in notable actions such as those brought by Ladbrokes and Betfair last year.

Here the second chamber of the ECJ upheld the right of the Dutch state to exclude both companies from the Dutch market, on the grounds that their exclusion correctly formed part of a broader range of legislation designed to curtail problem gambling.

"National legislation, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which seeks to curb addiction to games of chance and to combat fraud, and which in fact contributes to the achievement of those objectives, can be regarded as limiting betting activities in a consistent and systematic manner even where the holder(s) of an exclusive licence are entitled to make what they are offering on the market attractive by introducing new games and by means of advertising,? the judgment read in part.

??It is for the national court to determine whether unlawful gaming activities constitute a problem in the Member State concerned which might be solved by the expansion of authorised and regulated activities, and whether that expansion is on such a scale as to make it impossible to reconcile with the objective of curbing such addiction.?

However, the Court stressed that when it comes to national licensing schemes, the principles of equal treatment and the consequent obligation of transparency are applicable.

The good news is that a new Dutch Coalition Government has indicated an intent to introduce an online gambling licensing regime in 2012, liberalising the online gambling market; the situation remains unclear as the politicians debate the case for and against.
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